There may be no lack of businesses that could pay more tax in Greece, but that doesn’t mean whoever wins the June 17 general election is going to have an easy time convincing them that paying up makes good business sense. Following the inconclusive first poll in May, it will take a strong government to bring about change.
Greek ship owners who remitted more than $175 billion in untaxed earnings to the country in 10 years say they would relocate the businesses if a new government scraps the fiscal exemption, risking as many as 60,000 jobs, Michelle Wiese Bockmann reports.
The country’s estimated 762 vessel owners pay no tax on international earnings brought into Greece under rules incorporated in the country’s constitution since 1967. The Syriza party, which opposes Greece’s international bailout and is shown by polls as vying for first place before a June 17 election, says it wants to abolish the tax break.
Larger businesses have better prospects for relocating operations offshore. George Economou, president of DryShips Inc., which owns a fleet of 58 dry-bulk ships and tankers, says in the same report that he’s unconcerned about tax changes: “Your corporate office can be anywhere in the world.”
Greece’s biggest companies can set an example for the rest of the country — it’s just unclear how many would choose to set an example of paying the tax collectors and how many would rather follow the lead of the shippers.